Sunday, April 5, 2015

Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock Interview & Giveaway

Raising the Stakes banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 1 till 7 April, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

Raising the Stakes CoverRaising the Stakes
by Karen Rock
Genre: Adult
Age category: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 1 April, 2015

Hiding from the world…

Tucking herself away in the Adirondack woods was supposed to keep Vivienne Harris safe. From dark memories of the Bronx, from danger, from entanglements. But when an orphaned bear cub raids her pantry and conservation officer Liam Walsh appears with news of poachers nearby, her private, peaceful world is turned upside down!

Suddenly two forces are drawing her out—Button, the cub who needs her help, and Liam, the man who's dead set against her rehabilitating the bear. If she can just win Liam's support, Vivie knows she can give Button a good life. And maybe find the courage to embrace a future with Liam…

You can find Raising the Stakes on Goodreads

You can buy Raising the Stakes here:
- Amazon
- Barnes & Noble
- Kobo
- Harlequin

karen in gardenAbout the Author:
Karen Rock is an award-winning YA and adult contemporary romance author. She holds a master’s degree in English and worked as an ELA instructor before becoming a full-time writer. Currently she writes for Harlequin Heartwarming and her first novel for the line, WISH ME TOMORROW, has won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2014 Golden Quill Contest and a finalist in the Published Maggie Awards. The first novel in her co-authored YA series, CAMP BOYFRIEND, has been a finalist in the Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards.

You can find and contact Karen here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Tumblr
- Quarterly Newsletter
- Amazon Author Page

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Raising the Stakes. These are the prizes you can win:
- a 100$ Amazon gift card (INT)
- a set of signed paperbacks of Wish Me Tomorrow, His Hometown Girl, Someone Like You and A League of Her Own (US only)
Raising the Stakes Grand Prize

My thanks to Deal Sharing Aunts blog for hosting me today! It’s wonderful to be here and meet you and your wonderful readers.
Where are you from?
I live in Upstate New York. So far north that if I walked too far off my property, I could be in Canada! The Adirondack Mountains are nearby as is the gorgeous fresh water Lake Champlain. I feel so lucky to live in a place that uses the motto, “Forever Wild” to describe itself.

Tell us your latest news?
I’m thrilled to have finished a Christmas Novella for Harlequin’s Heartwarming Anthology coming out this holiday season and have signed a three book contract with Harlequin for more Heartwarming novels that will take us from Texas to the Catskills and some other place I have yet to determine since the third book is what’s called a “blind” as in I can make it up and write it when approved. Very excited at all that possibility!
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing as a young girl when I got my first journal. I’ve always loved being able to chat about my day, express my thoughts, and create stories and poems on paper. Although motherhood got in the way for a while, I’m so happy to be back to it and feel very blessed and fortunate to have been given a chance to publish those stories.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer so I’m not a hundred percent sure when I transitioned from want to belief… maybe when I sold my first play… or even before that, when I wrote plays for the middle school drama club and heard audiences laugh and applaud at lines I penned. It felt surreal and gratifying and like something I wanted to do always. Making my first sale only made official what every published or yet-to-be-published writer knows: if you have a story to tell and you tell it, you are a writer. No one can tell you that but yourself J
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a huge, I’m talking MEGA, fail… but I was intrigued by supernatural powers back when the whole Twilight craze (yes- I was a Twi-Mom- lol) was going on. I’m also a YA author so I wrote a book about teens with a variety of psychic abilities and… yep… that’s about as far as it went. The upside to that book is it taught me what I needed to learn and I found that education to push myself harder. Eventually, I decided that what I really loved about paranormal was the romance and while I didn’t have superpowers when it came to- well- writing superpowers, I could write a love story and that’s what I’ve stayed with since.

Do you have a specific writing style?
Honesty. I always want my characters to be as raw and ugly and wrong and weak as we can all be because then, when they are strong, and noble, and selfless and beautiful as humans also are, they become real people to me and the reader. I don’t want perfect situations, settings or characters in my books. The conflicts will be complicated and the problems messy without neat fixes. But each story will be deeply emotional and have a realness to it that is so important to me in storytelling.
Many read romances to escape their lives and live in fantasy- which I completely get because I’m a HUGE Outlander fan and paranormal romance fan and anything that carries me away for a while. But I just can’t write those kinds of wonderful stories. I guess it’s because, deep down, I want my readers to see themselves in my stories and see that, though life isn’t perfect, they are worthy of love and will find it. J
How did you come up with the title?
Actually I’m a complete fail at titles! My editors came up with it because in the story my main character is raising an orphaned bear and the stakes keep getting higher, the challenges tougher as the story progresses… in her determination to help the cub and overcome a tragic past event that makes it hard for her to trust men and her heart.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Definitely! Both of my characters have, in a sense, run from/avoided a past trauma and thought they’d left it behind. My hero is a soldier who doesn’t realize he has PTSD. My heroine thinks because she moved to a remote area, far from the site of her assault, she’s safe. However, they learn that past hurts follow you until you face them down. My message would be that instead of not thinking about old trauma, celebrate them for having survived. See that painful time as a moment that made you a stronger person who can overcome the odds and eventually find love.

How much of the book is realistic?
This is a contemporary romance so it’s a 100% realistic. I researched extensively with the NYS Conservation Department, biologists and animal refuge proprietors to ensure all of my facts about raising and rehabilitating an orphaned bear were accurate. As for my heroine’s assault, it’s very very sad, but true that these things happen to women and thankfully we have a strong support network for when it does. For my hero, there is a groundswell of growing recognition of PTSD. Lots of veterans prefer not to discuss their war experiences, shoving down their bad memories until they are eaten up by them. Now we are beginning to understand how important it is for them to open up and share what happened so that they can move past those times and embrace a happy future.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My grandfather suffered from PTSD and unfortunately he didn’t live in a time where this was recognized or discussed. He fought in the Pacific during WWII in one of the greatest battles. Although he had no visible scars, he carried them inside. He was awarded a medal for saving others… only he couldn’t truly save himself when he came home and struggled to assimilate back into civilian life. Liam, my hero, also struggles to assimilate into the regular world again and I gave him the closure I wish I could have given my grandfather.

What books have most influenced your life most?
It’s such a cliché, but I can’t help but say Gone with the Wind. I read it five time before I graduated high school and it fired me up to someday write romance. I love the deeply complex, contradictory characters, the passionate romance that falters, progresses, then stops, the might have beens… It definitely had the biggest influence on me during my formative, writing years.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Hands down, Jojo Moyes. Her books are works of art. They are unique, creative, complex, real, and honest. I would burst into ugly tears if I ever actually met her. Awful but true.

What book are you reading now?
I’m having a Rainbow Rowell marathon. She’s also an incredible contemporary romance author who writes YA, NA and adult fiction. I read Eleanor and Park, moved on to Fangirl and am now reading Attachments. Each one is just as good as the last. She’s my hero. Can I have two mentors? Lol.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
A friend of mine, Patricia Leaver, has her first solo YA novel, THE SECRETS WE KEEP coming out and I had the privilege to beta read it. I gave her a cover quote and meant every word in it. Her writing is simply beautiful. Her characters are people we know. Her conflicts are emotional and deep and so raw that you feel scraped out until she resolves them with such a powerful ending that you find yourself staring at the last page for five minutes, speechless.
What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on the next Heartwarming novel in my new contract and learning lots about rodeo and prize bull ranches. Since I’m from the North, I’m very lucky to have wonderful friends in Texas who are teaching me a lot to make sure this novel is a hundred percent authentic!
What would you like my readers to know?
That you don’t have to be perfect to find a love that’s perfect for you. We all deserve love. Never stop believing it.

Thanks again for having me here, today! It’s been such a treat to chat with you J

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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